White House says now is not right time for talks with North Korea
Updated: 2017-12-14 11:53:43 KST
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council told Reuters on Wednesday, that "now is not the time" for negotiations with North Korea given its recent ballistic missile test.
On the same day, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert also said there would have to be a "period of calm" in which the regime suspends all weapons testing before any dialogue can resume.
This is raising questions over Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's earlier comments where he said the U.S. was ready to hold talks with Pyongyang at any time without preconditions.
Tillerson's offer appeared to signal a shift away from Washington's demand that no dialogue with North Korea can take place without including discussions over its denuclearization.
The White House declined to comment whether President Trump, who's taken a more hardline stance regarding the issue, had approved Tillerson's overture.
Tillerson's relationship with the president has been strained recently, with the pair sending conflicting messages regarding the administration's North Korea policy.
Tillerson's influence within the cabinet has diminished as a result, with reports emerging last month, that Trump was considering a plan to remove him from his administration.
There has been constant speculation of a growing rift between the pair ever since President Trump tweeted in October that Tillerson was "wasting his time" pursuing diplomacy with North Korea.
But regardless of Tillerson's offer of dialogue, Pyongyang may not be willing to sit down for talks just yet, according to a UN envoy to North Korea.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman who returned from a trip to the reclusive nation in late-November said the regime isn't likely to engage in discussions before it has a full nuclear deterrent.
Yu Joonhee, Arirang News.